Sometimes in a team game the entire spotlight is homed in on one man, like it is on Virat Kohli at the moment. Everything about him is selling, his cricket, his hairstyle, beard, tweets and may be even his old toothbrush. There is a new term to describe this wave — ‘Kohlified’.
I’m loving every bit of this as I feel that the young man deserves all of this and more. But at the same time I also feel sad for the others in the team who must be feeling dwarfed in comparison to Virat.
I have been part of the teams which had the original great man — Sachin Tendulkar. I remember in 2007-08 tour of Australia, Sachin paaji would get all the attention from the locals. Each time he walked on the field of play he’d get a standing ovation. Each time he got out and walked off he still got a standing ovation. The lesser mortals like me didn’t realise what was going on as it was the first time I had seen a batsman being applauded off the field even when he hadn’t scored much. Paaji was always a popular man in the team and no one grudged this attention imbalance.
Some individuals relish the fact that they are not drawing attention and can quietly go about their game while others want to show off. I am sure the present dressing room of the Indian team would be similar. As they prepare to take on the West Indies in today’s semi-final there would be some players craving for attention.
They’d need to be told/reminded about how good they are and that the team is not all about Virat. They’d like media to be talking about them, photographers freezing their frame loaded with an exquisite cover drive and cricket experts terming their technique exemplary. I think this is where the team management’s role comes in. They need to be proactive in this approach.
In fact both the team director Ravi Shastri and batting coach Sanjay Bangar can play a significant role here. Both of them have played in teams littered with stars and would know how the other lesser talented feel when everything is projected as a one-man show.
It is extremely crucial to have an inclusive attitude towards the team members rather than being an obsessed father reprimanding the average child and extolling the other. Sanjay should know what I mean. He was part of the Railways Ranji team for a long time, a set-up which never had big, bright nameplates except a Murali Kartik.
In some ways even the West Indies would have a similar challenge. Their hero is Chris Gayle like ours is Virat. I think they do well to leave Gayle alone while the rest of the bunch have regimented routines.
The entire cricketing world is waiting for the contest to begin which has a lot in store. There are plenty of theories floating around the nature of the pitch. I think it will be a flat track full of runs, something which West Indies will enjoy. Having said that India are clear favourites as I feel my West Indian friends lack the discipline to win. Unless of course our team gets too carried away by the Kohlimania and loses the plot.